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A solution for top notch high schools

Local Commentary: Measure SA

Posted: September 14, 2008 6:13 p.m.
Updated: November 16, 2008 5:00 a.m.
 

We are seven weeks and one day away from what is the most important election in American history. Of particular importance to Santa Clarita Valley residents is an item at the end of a very lengthy ballot. It is Measure SA, the William S. Hart Union High School District bond.

If the Santa Clarita Valley is to remain the gem of California residential living, it is imperative that this measure be successfully passed.

The keystone of our unique community is the undisputed fact that we have strong, safe public education facilities that are focused on student achievement.

Almost 90 percent of our high school sophomores pass both the math and English language arts portions of the California High School Exit Examination. This is a test normally required of high school seniors.

The Academic Performance Index (API) scores the Hart District at 804. We are No. 1 in the state for union high school districts with a student population of 10,000 or more. This is an astronomically incredible success story in the field of public education. Let's keep it that way.

Perhaps the greatest attribute of our valley is the marvelously symbiotic relationship between all of our elected officials, including business, educational, and civic leaders. These important ties enable us to continue to be successful in the maintenance of our idyllic community.

Whether it is fighting the Elsmere Canyon landfill, protesting the Cemex mine, supporting the Open Space initiative, or passing bonds to build and modernize schools, local Democrats and Republicans join together in the best interest of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Proof of that occurred in 2001, when Santa Clarita Valley voters approved Measure V to fund new school construction and the modernization of older schools. It has been a real success story. The Hart District received $158 million from taxpayers, and through matching state funds and developers' fees, was able to construct and modernize $487 million of needed projects.

Measure V monies built two new high school and two new junior highs. Three schools were totally modernized.
Partial modernization was successfully completed on three other schools. The Hart districts' success story with the 2001 Measure V bond is unrivaled. But that was then, and now is now. Our task is not yet finished.

Measure SA has been placed on the ballot so that the Hart district can continue to build and modernize needed facilities for present and future generations.

Measure SA is a local solution for top-notch local schools. Every penny stays in local high schools and junior highs. It will qualify our schools for state matching dollars.

No funds can be taken by the state or diverted to other school districts. It will add only $5 to existing, voter-approved tax rates per $100,000 of assessed value.

In addition, Measure SA has built-in taxpayer protections with independent citizens' oversight and annual independent audits. This initiative will also serve to further relieve overcrowded schools by adding a high school in Castaic, and other classrooms on sites where needed.

The William S. Hart Union High School District includes areas from Castaic all the way to Agua Dulce. The boundaries extend beyond the city and include a good deal of county areas including Stevenson Ranch.

The most distinguishing factor between national, state, and local government is the ability of local politicos to shed the mantle of partisan politics in an effort to work together to achieve the common good. In short, local issues trump political persuasion.

The quality of our entire valley is affected by the quality and safety of all of our schools. I ask that you help the Hart district pass the bond on Nov. 4. Yes on Measure SA for school safety and student achievement.

Paul B. Strickland Sr. is a resident of Santa Clarita. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now" runs Monday in The Signal and rotates among several local Republican writers.

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